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Prayer for Emily

by R.J. McCaffrey

Six months since I've seen you niece,
been struck, sun-numbed, stunned lovely,
blessed by an auburn tumble quaking
over your shoulders as you run,
chase your dog sunward, bolt
over stark house-shadow. Awesome Earth,

earth of growth, fresh-blessed earth,
grass, emerald or sun-bleached lime, and my niece,
all elbows and flash and knees bolting
from shadow to open air, where mote-bodies,
spores and seed, are held in a slant of sun
as they puff from under your quick

feet. Your shine and being, elusive quick--
life; your life, just sprouting in sure earth.
Blessed in your flesh, seeing whole suns,
nothing part, undone, smashed or fragment. My niece,
I envy your sure step and stretch; unbalking body's
dash, the firm arc you trace like a bolt

shot smash, a comet through clover,
as if our whole earth this moment sparked one quick
bloom of summer, as if two counties over, no bloating bodies
obscenely mounded up shallow earthen
skirts gathered round them. Dear niece,
no need to trouble you. What sun

you have now, will be later: self same sun
which ripens corpses and grapes, fronds our clover
(same dander which powders my arms, your feet). Niece,
think nothing of my frowns, the day's fine and too quick
to let my thoughts of mould and earth
weigh you. Grow. Let your body

bloom against your parents' constraint; let your body
grown draw men, women, a human sun
around which they'll orbit: fragile arks, Earths
and they, with word and deed and mind you might turn over
against death and seethe of age, quicken
them again, as you have me, my niece.

Ah my niece, be generous, unhesitant always, sure in the shine
of your thin boned body, as now: barefoot in your backyard's clover
your quick feet sweep, sweep the lightest kiss over God's good earth.


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